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Feature: online portals offer more plans, prices;
consumers become their own insurance agent

By Steve Anderson
healthinsurance.org™ editor

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  • Online information better informs consumer’s health choices
  • More choices
  • More privacy

While the nation’s economy may be on the mend, there are still plenty of Americans who have lost their employer-sponsored health coverage, and at the same time, the number of businesses subsidizing employee health insurance plans continues to wane. As a result, millions of Americans have found themselves forced to seek individual health insurance on the private health insurance market.

Traditionally, most of these new health insurance consumers have sought out insurance agents for help in choosing the right health plan with the lowest possible costs on the private market. But resources on the Web are now giving some of these consumers a competitive advantage by, in effect, becoming their own health insurance agents.

In recent years, consumers have increasingly taken control of their insurance-purchasing decisions by turning to online health insurance portals such as healthinsurance.org™. A variety of plan options – and the option for privacy – has been driving increased interest in these portals. In fact, traffic at healthinsurance.org™ is more than double the traffic of two years ago and continues to climb.

Buying health insurance online.

Online information better informs
consumers’ health insurance choices

Much of the interest is fueled by a desire for general consumer information about health insurance (or medical insurance), including glossaries and guides to basic insurance concepts and general consumer tips. But visitors are increasingly doing online research because they can find information that addresses specific individual insurance needs, ranging from short-term coverage, to health insurance for the self employed and student health insurance.

In addition, they’re finding specific information that helps them do their "homework," including comparisons of health insurance companies and even personalized health insurance quote comparisons – before they purchase coverage.

The online experience can present a distinct advantage over the prospect of having to meet in person with an insurance agent for a health insurance quote. For one thing, relying on an agent typically limits your choices to a small range of plan options offered by the one or two health insurance companies an agent may represent. Online portals typically work with multiple insurance carriers, thus offering consumers a broad range of plans and plan benefits to compare.

And these health insurance Web sites now allow individuals to get online health insurance quotes actually based on their individual data and circumstances. Users provide basic information such as postal ZIP code, gender, age and marital status, and in just seconds, sites can return a list of competing plans with a range of deductible, benefit and premium options.

More privacy, no agents will call

Some portals – including healthinsurance.org™ – can provide health insurance quotes without requiring an individual to enter personal information, allowing them to bypass phone solicitation by a health insurance carrier and its agents. Privacy in the process of retrieving personalized health insurance quotes is one of the top advantages mentioned by consumers using healthinsurance.org™.

Note that health insurance is regulated by each state, and some sparsely-populated areas, or states with more progressive consumer protections, may have fewer carriers offering products.

In a select few ZIP codes we are running a pilot program and visitors are required to provide a valid phone number to receive a quote from healthinsurance.org™. In these exceptions, your information is transmitted in live-time to representatives of a single insurance company, which must earn an AM Best rating of A- or better. If you are contacted by multiple sources after filling out this form, please report this abuse on our feedback form.

Please note that ‘sponsored links’ are advertisements from other sites, which have their own privacy and data collection policies. If you are required to provide your name or number as a condition of receiving an online quote, be certain to read the “fine print.” If you’re not vigilant, you may be unknowingly allowing the site to sell your contact information – and not just to one agent, but possibly to a number of health insurance companies, each of which may contact you.

Read our privacy policy.

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